The Reverend Professor Edward Ian Bailey
President of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, 2010-2014
Born in 1935, Edward Bailey was an undergraduate at Cambridge. In the year he took his degree, he also studied at the United Theological College in Bangalore. Before being awarded his MA in Cambridge he studied for the priesthood at Westcott House, also in Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in1962 and priest in 1963. In 1969 he was awarded an MA by Bristol University and in 1977 a PhD from the same University.
After a three year curacy, he became Assistant Chaplain at Marlborough College and then moved to Winterbourne to be Rector in 1970. He stayed there for 36 years until he retired. As so often happens, if you stay in one place for a long time, you are asked to undertake a host of other responsibilities. Edward was no different: he was Rural Dean of Stapleton from 1977 to 1983 and Chaplain at Frenchay Hospital on the west side of Bristol from 1979 to 1984. He was made a Canon of Bristol Cathedral in1984 and Warden of the Diocesan Readers from 1995 to 2003. In 1997 he was appointed a Visiting Professor of Middlesex University.
In 1968 Edward initiated the formal study of ‘Implicit Religion‘, which he termed ‘secular faith’. He believed that this:
… opens up the possibility of discovering the sacred within what might otherwise be dismissed as profane, and of finding an experience of the holy within an apparently irreligious realm. Above all, in contemporary society it allows for the discovery of some kind of religiosity within what conventionally might be seen as an unrelievedly secular sphere. The concept therefore gives credence to the opinion of the ‘person in the street,’ that while ‘some who go to church really mean it,’ others who go to church ‘really have a different religion altogether’—but that ‘everybody has a religion of some sort,’ a faith by which they live, albeit as an unconscious core at the center of their way of life and being.’
To further the study of implicit religion, Edward convened the ‘Denton Conference’, which has been held annually since 1978, and founded the Centre for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality. He also founded the journal Implicit Religion which he edited from 1998 until his death.
In 2009, Edward was invited to join the Steering Group of what subsequently became the British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS). Following the first international BASS conference in 2010, the committee structure of BASS was formalised to include a President and two Vice Presidents of the Association. Edward volunteered to become the first President, supported by Professor Wilf McSherry and the Venerable Arthur Hawes as Vice Presidents. Edward presided over the next two conferences in 2012 and 2014. Following the third BASS conference, he stepped down as President but remained on the Executive Committee.
Edward will be greatly missed by his colleagues in BASS. He brought an innovative and enquiring mind to bear on the burgeoning discipline of spirituality and made a distinctive contribution to research and development in the field for almost half a century. We extend our condolences and best wishes to his family, friends and wide circle of colleagues.
Arthur Hawes (27/04/2015)